Ask Sam letter


To Sam


I don't know what to do anymore. I really care about my grades. Like, REALLY care. I spend hours and hours revising for tests and am always working in some way for something. I guess i do well in school, i get kind of good grades. The teachers think I do well but I really don't agree with them. Teachers have to be nice don't they?

Anyway... I can't physically keep working this hard any more. I am constantly tired and have no time to do anything else. Teachers have told me that I over revise and that I should cut down a bit because I'm just stressing myself out, but I know I would fail if I revised any less. I am already stressed out too much and I'm only in year 9. How am I going to cope when I am working for GCSEs over the next two years? I really don't know what to do. Education is so important, especially as I want to be a nurse but Science is probably my worst subject! I need an A preferably A* in Science GCSE to get on the A Level course which, I don't think I could get if Science was the only subject I was taking but i've got another 6 to focus on and in Maths, I will be taking two GCSEs as I'm doing Maths and Further Maths.

Please help. I need some way to relax and cut down on revision a bit but still do well. I don't want to stop revising altogether but, currently, I am doing 4 and a half to 5 hours every weeknight and 9-10 hours on weekends and holidays. I need to do less, i know i do. But how?

Thank you.

Ask Sam


Hi there,

Thanks for your letter. I can really hear how important it is to you that you do well in school. It sounds like you’re really focussed on the future and your goal of becoming a nurse. Whilst having goals and ambitions can be a really positive thing, it sounds like the pressure of wanting to achieve is making life really tough for you. All your energy is focussed on your academic achievements, and there’s not a lot of time for fun and relaxation in your life right now.

You’ve said that your teachers have advised you to cut down on your revision so that you can stop being so stressed. It sounds like it feels hard for you to think about doing less because you’re so worried about the future.

When I was reading your letter, I was reminded of marathon runners. They have to run a really long distance (over 26 miles!) so instead of running as fast as they can right from the start, they try to keep a slower and even pace until they get closer to the finish line and then they start to run as fast as they can. If they tried to sprint for the whole distance they wouldn’t have enough energy to finish the race!

I wonder if this is a bit like what your teachers are suggesting. They seem to be confident with your grades, even though you aren’t. It also looks like they want to make sure you don’t run out of energy before you get to sit your GCSEs. It seems like they’re trying to help you pace yourself.

You asked whether teachers have to be nice. The answer is that teachers should support you to achieve your potential, and the best ones do this whilst being nice too (though we know that there will be some teachers who you don’t like as much as others). They'd have nothing to gain from telling you that you’re doing well if they think you’re not.

It seems like anxiety about the future and struggling to believe that you’re doing well and can achieve your goals are both issues that it might be useful for you to get support with. These are both things that a ChildLine counsellor would support you with. I’m wondering how you’d feel about contacting them for a chat? It could be on the phone or via email or online chat (I know that you express yourself well in writing because of the letter you wrote to me).

Also, there are lots of young people on the ChildLine message boards who talk about their worries. Perhaps you could post something there and get some support from them too?

I wish you lots of luck for the future, but I also hope that you find a way to enjoy your time. Fun is important too! Relaxing and having fun gives your brain a chance to rest, which means it has the energy and ability to keep going with your study. Remember – it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Take care,

Need help straight away?

You can talk privately to a counsellor online or call 0800 1111 for free.

Ask me a question

You can ask me about anything you want, there's nothing too big or small. I read every single letter but I can only answer a few each week. My replies are published here on my page.

Write me a letter